Three-cylinder engines in the past were not as sophisticated as the one fitted in cars today, which most of these engines typically come with a single overhead cam and a carburettor, or with double overhead cam and electronic fuel injection with turbocharging at most. Sure, they don’t consume as much fuel as their bigger contemporaries, but they are far less refined and sophisticated than engines found in larger cars at the time.
Three-cylinder engines are not as dinky and comical as they used to be; by fitting double overhead cams, catalytic converters, engine control unit, variable valve timing, drive-by-wire, direct fuel injection and turbocharging, they provide a powerful engine with similar performance to a much larger engine with improved efficiency, The reduction in size and a cylinder translates to lower engine friction and lighter weight which reduces the car’s overall weight.
To put this into perspective, Nasim Peugeot Sdn Bhd used to offer a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine in the 208 making 120hp and 160Nm of torque capable of a respectable 6.7l/100km fuel economy figure.
The refreshed 208 Puretech now comes with a new turbocharged 1.2-litre three-cylinder with double overhead cam and direct injection petrol engine making 110hp at 5,500 rpm and a maximum torque output of 205 Nm from 1,500 rpm. Despite having 10hp lesser than the old four-cylinder engine, its got 45Nm more than the outgoing 1.6-litre petrol engine.
With a much higher low-end torque, the Puretech engine beats the outgoing 1.6-litre engine to a pulp in terms fuel economy and drivability. This is mostly due to the engine’s low-end torque characteristic that provides ample thrust without the need to push the engine hard which enables the compact engine to do more for less. This result in low fuel consumption figures of 6.4 l/100km urban, 4.2 l/100km highway as advertised and 5.7 l/100km combined as tested.
It’s not only the engine that is new in the mid-life refreshed 208; it comes with new signature headlights, taillights, front and rear bumper and new 16” Titane two-tone alloy wheels. It too comes with daytime running lights at the front, and unusually at the rear as well with its cool looking 3D-effect ‘claw’ motif in each cluster. The headlights can be switched on and off automatically and provides illumination keeping your pathway home lit for a minute after locking the car.
The one thing I like about Peugeot cars and especially in the 208 Puretech is the Peugeot i-Cockpit layout due to the perceived space and its classic, clean and chic feel. You can find soft-touch areas on the dashboard and door cards and comes with a centre armrest for the front driver and passenger. The materials used are high and are cleverly conjured with tasteful polished aluminium accents all around.
First timers will need time to get used to its unusual but cleverly laid out interior, where the small sports steering wheel sits much lower than a conventional steering wheel. That said, it makes driving less tiring and easier to drive, especially when turning the wheel from end-to-end through tight and confined spaces.
With the 208’s small steering wheel placed lower than in most cars, the instrument cluster stands within line of sight, peeking just above the steering wheel with all of the information available at a glance. Likewise, the 7” colour touchscreen is easy to use, with a wide range of functions including music, Bluetooth hands-free and streaming with telephony functions included as well.
Sound reproduction comes from the Arkamys 3D Sound audio system with 6 speakers. For a car entertainment system, they are not bad with decent levels of detail and evenly across the frequencies. The speakers go surprisingly deep too as for fans of Electronic Dance Music can enjoy the fidelity that these speakers are able to reproduce.
A huge plus is that it comes with fabric seats, which I found out most Malaysians would prefer over leather due to its ease of maintenance and doesn’t retain heat when parked out in the sun. They are plush and comfortable to sit in, and do provide good lateral support. The 208 Puretech’s seating layout would favour those in the front than at the rear and is able to occupy two average sized adults with good amounts of leg and head room.
The 208 Puretech has a 285-litre boot – five litres smaller than in the Ford Fiesta and five litres bigger than in the Volkswagen Polo. Folding the rear seats down expands it to 1,152 litres, which rivals the Ford (974 litres) and the Volkswagen (952 litres). Although the boot opening is adequate for loading bulky items, you have to lift items over a lip and the rear seats don’t fold down completely flat.
Performance wise, the 208 gets from naught to a hundred in 9.8 seconds, a 1.1 second improvement over the old 1.6-litre model and with a electronically limited 190 km/h top speed. Driving the 208 Puretech can be easily described as friendly and accommodating to novice drivers and feels much at home on Malaysian roads. There are no audible annoyances such as creaks and rattles to be heard when driven over rough patches with minimal road and wind noise.
The 1.2-litre engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which sends the engine’s drive to its two front wheels smoothly and seamlessly. Having evenly spaced ratios does give the 208 Puretech its smooth ‘big car’ like driving characteristics. That said, the 208 Puretech offers plenty of driving fun on a twisty ribbon of road with compliance and agility. This is partly due to the small steering wheel allowing the driver to make little effort in changing direction. When the going gets spirited, the tail end remains stable as the car’s weight balance managed as the suspension that there isn’t too much body roll in bends.
The Peugeot 208 Puretech is priced at RM89,888 which is a decent price to ask for a car that ticks the right boxes in terms of style, practicality and drivability. It also comes with 5-years or 120,000km warranty (whichever comes first).
+ Comfortable and spacious
+ Beefy low-end torque
+ Good looks with beautiful exterior colours
+ Top notch audio system
– Tiny glove box
Peugeot 208 Puretech
Price Msia: RM89,888 OTR
Engine: 1,199cc in-line four cylinder
Power: 110 hp
Torque: 240 Nm
Fuel Economy: 5.7 l/100km (Tested)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic transmission